Splice of life

Today’s remix culture is dependent on skilled technicians who can splice different bits of recorded sound together with split-second accuracy, a process that did not exist until, oh, the 1940s:

In the days before magnetic tape came into wide use, the process of transferring music to the new discs (soon to be known as LPs) was complex. Long pieces of music, split among multiple 78 r.p.m. records, needed to be stitched together on the new discs without interruption.

To do that, Mr. Scott and his colleagues lined up overlapping segments of music on 78s, and — with Mr. Scott snapping his finger in coordination — switched the audio signal at just the right moment from one turntable to the other. As the industry began to use magnetic tape, beginning in the late 1940s, such work was no longer necessary.

Mr. Scott — Howard Hillison Scott, born in 1920 — may have been ideally suited to this position: he’d graduated from Eastman in 1941 and was going on to graduate piano study at Juilliard when the war effort came calling. He built a reputation as a record producer, and finished his career remastering old Columbia Masterworks recordings for Sony Classical CDs. H. H. Scott died last month at the age of ninety-two; do not confuse him with the other H. H. Scott, manufacturer of fine high-fidelity components in the 1950s and 1960s, who died in 1975 at sixty-six.

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